WHAT IS A CERTIFICATION?
Certification is a formal process by which an organization proves its conformance with a standard. It is a written assurance delivered by an independent third party that certifies that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements defined in a standard. This independent third party is called a Certification Body. It assesses the conformance to the standard and delivers or not the certification. Certification works solely on trust: Trust on the relevancy of the standard itself and trust on the Certification Body issuing the certificate.
WHY CAN CERTIFICATION BE TRUSTED?
Assuming that the standard is relevant and the certificate is not a forged one, the value of the certification depends on how much you trust the Certification Body. Not all assessments are equal, which means not all Certification Bodies are equal. The attention with which a Certification Body conducts the assessment is an indicator of the trustworthiness of the certificate.
A first way a Certification Body can prove its trustworthiness is to be itself certified to operate certification activities (standard ISO 17021). In the jargon, this is called “accreditation” and it is delivered by an Accreditation Body. There are different kinds of Accreditation Bodies, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations and private companies, but in most countries there is one official Accreditation Body, itself a member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF).
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